The primary objective of the project is to measure the total phenolic content and the antioxidant (ORAC) capacity of cocoa pulp and study effects of thermal processing (pasteurization) as well as storage on phenolic content and antioxidant value.
As a secondary focus, Rutgers will monitor color of the pulp before and after processing and during storage. The success of this investigation will lead to increased value and marketability of the cocoa pulp. The possible utilization of this by-product in other industrial processes can be considered as a diversification opportunity for the cocoa industry.
Cocoa (Theobroma cacao) is known worldwide for its beans used in the manufacture of chocolate. Its importance has grown as a significant source of polyphenols. Flavonoids are a group of polyphenolic compounds that occur widely in fruit, vegetables, tea, red wine, and chocolate. Cocoa and chocolate products have the highest concentration of flavonoids among commonly consumed food items. Over 10% of the weight of cocoa powder consists of flavonoids, catechin and epicatechin. The consumption of flavanol rich cocoa has been reported to have beneficial health effects, particularly to reduction in the risk of cardiovascular diseases. (Borchers et al. 2000)
Cocoa fruit (cocoa pod) varies in size, shape, external color and appearance. The mature fruit is thick walled and bears 30 to 40 beans, each enveloped in a white, sweet mucilaginous pulp and loosely attached to an axial placenta. The bean comprises of an outer seed coat (testa) together with the mucilaginous pulp surrounding it and an inner embryo or cotyledons contained within (Thompson et al. 2001). The unfermented cocoa pulp has found applications in juices, wines and marmalades (Dias et al. 2007)